Milan is just one of those cities that stir up grandiose fantasies of chic high-end fashion, and sophisticated retail therapy. Shopping certainly is one of Milan’s high points, but there is a lot more to this marvelous city.
Milan is the capital of Lombardy, and for centuries it has been a center of wealth, art, and culture. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous renaissance ‘Last Supper’ mural was painted in Milan, and it is a breathtaking vision. One of the world’s leading opera houses is in this city, as well as Italy’s largest Gothic cathedral. Milan is a metropolis of culture and history, and is one of Italy’s best cities to explore.
Milan, like every city, can be something different for every individual. Depending on how much time you have, will influence how much you will see.
If you only have two to three days in Milan, I have composed a list of a few favorites in this city from art, culture, and shopping – Enjoy!
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo of Milan was a labor of love and faith, since it had taken over six centuries to construct. This stunning Gothic and Renaissance cathedral broke ground in 1386 and was finally completed last century in 1965. It is a work of art, in its construction, architecture, engineering and down to its fine artistic details.
Visiting the Duomo in Milan is a tremendous experience and is one of Italy’s most visited tourist attraction. For more information on guided tours or visiting the cathedral, please visit – Duomo di Milano
For more information, please visit – Duomo di Milano | Discovering Italy
Teatro alla Scala
La Scala, the famous opera house of Milan, Italy has been regarded as one of the leading opera houses and ballet theatres globally. Although the façade looks unassuming at first, I walked by it three times, the interior of the theatre is one of the grandest I have seen in Europe. Although my top favorite is the Palais Garnier in Paris, La Scala definitely ranks in my mental list of top European opera houses that I have seen.
Catching a performance at La Scala is the goal when visiting this historical theatre, but if your schedule does not permit it, you can take a tour and visit the museum. I had taken the tour of La Scala and it was an extraordinary experience, especially the theatre area and standing in the “boxes of La Scala”. I figured that when I do return to Milan and catch a performance at the theatre, I plan on sitting in one of the plush red boxes. I was just checking them out before hand! 🙂
For more information – Teatro alla Scala – Milan’s Opera House| Discovering Italy
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This impressive Galleria is Italy’s oldest active shopping gallery, as well as one of Milan’s major landmarks. The four story double arcade was named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, Victor Emanuele II, and was constructed between 1865 and 1877.
The Galleria is also named il salotto di Milano or Milan’s drawing room, due the number of shops and its importance of a common Milanese dining and meeting place. The arcade primarily contains luxury retailers selling jewelry, haute couture, books, and paintings. There are also restaurants, bars, cafes, and the Town House Galleria hotel. The arcade is also famous for being home to many of the oldest shops and restaurants in Milan.
The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci
As a former Catholic and as a current Leonardo da Vinci devotee, viewing the original Last Supper was on top of my to-do list. Growing up, our family like most Filipino Catholic families, had a reproduction of the Last Supper on out dining room wall. The original is magnificent and it is not just a painting, but a mural painted on a large wall. I remember the moment I saw the original, I actually gasped, it was that breathtaking.
The Last supper dates back to around 1495-1498, and was painted with a method that allowed for regular alterations- tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic. This method along with environmental factors and intentional damage during WWII, has caused major deterioration to the mural. Unfortunately, only little of the original painting remains today. The painting is so delicate that the room that contains the mural is air controlled and dehumidified, in order to protect it from future deterioration.
When I had visited, having pre-purchased tickets was practically mandatory. I saw several visitors who were turned away for current day entry because they did not have a ticket. There are limited entries per day, in order to protect this masterpiece. For visiting information and tickets, please visit – Last Supper Milan
Also known as the Milan Castle, this medieval fortification was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, on top of the remnants of a 14th century fortification. Over the next centuries, the castle was renovated and enlarged, and became one of the largest citadels in Europe.
Today, Castello Sforzesco is home to several of Milan’s city museums and various impressive art collections.
Civic Museums inside the castle:
- The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, with an art collection including masterpieces by Titan, Tintoretto and Canaletto
- The Museum of Ancient Art
- The Museum of Musical Instruments
- The Egyptian Museum
- The Museum of Rondanini Pieta, which includes Michelangelo’s last sculpture
- The Prehistoric Collections of the Archaeological Museum of Milan
- The Antique Furniture & Wooden Sculpture Museum
For Visitor Information – Castello Sforzesco
Shopping in Milan
One of the first things that enters my mind, as with many others, when I think of Milan is the shopping. This city is renowned for its high-end shopping streets that make up the Fashion Quadrilateral.
The quadrilatero della moda is a neighborhood of Milan’s most sophisticated stores including Moschino, Versace, Bulgari, Prada, Gucci and more. The window displays are marvelous and are inspiring to look at, no matter if you are in the mode to shop, but a visit here would surely inspire you to do so.
If you are coming into Milan by train then you more than likely you will arriving at the Milan Central Railway Station. It is a grand and beautiful station that was officially inaugurated in 1932, which had replaced the older central station from 1864. Milano Centrale is the largest railway station in Europe by volume.
The railway station has an absolute powerful presence when you walk through it. Benito Mussolini, who was the Prime Minister at the time, wanted Milan Central to represent the power of the Fascist regime. Although stately, the station does not define any architectural style, but blends server various styles including Liberty, Art Deco and more.
Whether or not you come into Milan through the central station, a visit to the historic Milano Centrale is worth the trip.
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